Health chiefs have suggested a devious plan to increase revenue and reduce the burden that obese people place on the National Health Service: increase the cost of parking so motorists are forced to walk more often.
The report, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), suggests “encouraging people to walk or cycle… could be achieved, for instance, by introducing restricted parking and higher parking charges”.
If introduced, the measures would no doubt be met with dirision by motorists across the country, but the likely health benefits are significant. According to the Department of Health, only 29 per cent of female and 39 per cent of males adults, respectively, partake in the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Being lazy and eating badly can lead to obesity, heart disease, strokes and mental health issues such as dementia and even depression.
“As a nation, we are not physically active enough and this can contribute to a wide range of health problems,” Centre for Public Health Excellence at Nice director, Mike Kelly, explained. “We want to encourage and enable people to walk and cycle more and weave these forms of travel into everyday life.”
The report does take into consideration what effect an increase in parking fees would have on car owners “living in areas where the environment is not conducive to walking or cycling, or where there is little alternative to driving.” Some short journeys, such as school runs with a herd of small children, trips by disabled drivers, or journeys during extreme weather, simply aren’t practical on foot.
Whatever your views are on NICE’s proposal, it is fair to say that the odd walk — even when it’s snowing, blowing a gale or raining cats and dogs — probably won’t kill you. Who knkows – you may enjoy it – if only for the satisfaction of denying your local council some of your pennies.